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Frankfort Local News

Drug Group Sets Record for Legislative Lobbying Expenses

A lobbying group for various drug manufacturers has set a record for money spent during a Kentucky legislative session.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association spent nearly half a million dollars between January and March lobbying against a bill aimed at curbing meth production by limiting pseudoephedrine purchases.

According to the Legislative Branch Ethics Commission, that’s a new yearly record,  and there’s still one month of accounting left to do. Further, the group’s advertising expenses weren’t included, meaning the CHPA likely spent  millions fighting the bill, which ultimately passed.

State Senator Tom Buford opposed the measure and has no problem with the spending.

“I would not want to restrict anyone’s ability to voice their opinion because I think you move into a dictatorship when you do that,” he says. “It really sounds an exorbitant of money when you look at it, but if you go to Washington D.C. they’re spending hundreds of millions.”

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Frankfort Local News

Stumbo says Senate PSE Bill Will Likely Remain Intact If It Passes

A proposal that limits the amount of pseudoephedrine consumers can buy in a month could make it out the state House of Representatives intact.

The Senate passed a bill last week that would limit consumers to seven point two grams of pseudoephedrine every month, or roughly two boxes of cold medicine.

Now, the bill has arrived in the House. House Speaker Greg Stumbo supports stricter legislation that would make PSE available by prescription only to crack down on meth abuse. But that proposal doesn’t have any hope of passing the Senate, so Stumbo says he hopes his chamber will pass the Senate’s bill.

“I hope so. I mean I prefer a stronger version, but it’s obvious the Senate had problems with it. I expect that we’ll run into some difficulties over here, but we’ll give it our best shot,” he says.

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Frankfort Local News

State Lawmakers Encouraged to Take Prescription-Only PSE Approach

Officials from outside of Kentucky are encouraging state lawmakers not to repeat their missteps in the fight against meth.

At a joint meeting of the House and Senate Judiciary committees, officials from Oklahoma and Mississippi testified about how they’ve restricted the purchase of pseudoephedrine (PSE)—a common decongestant in cold medicines and an integral ingredient in meth.

Mississippi has made PSE available by prescription only. It’s a plan many of Kentucky’s lawmakers want to implement in the commonwealth. But opponents of that measure say it will only push meth manufacturing to border counties.

In Oklahoma, PSE is only restricted for buyers with prior meth-related convictions. But the head of the state’s narcotic division told the committees that approach isn’t working.

“You just have to decide if you want to track and do those types of things or do you want to eliminate,” said R. Darryl Weaver, director of Oklahoma’s Bureau of Narcotics. “And Oklahoma has tracked and tracking does not stop methamphetamine labs. And the collateral damage and the negative to that is really outrageous.”

Opponents of the prescription-only approach say Oklahoma doesn’t have the same tracking system for convictions as Kentucky. The commonwealth uses a national reporting system, called NPlex, that 18 other states use. Oklahoma’s system is independent.

For more than three hours, the committees heard testimony that favored a prescription-only approach.

But many groups, including the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and the Consumer Healthcare Products Association are against that idea. They favor a strengthened national tracking system and implementation of a law Oklahoma’s.

Pat Davis is a Northern Kentucky resident who came to the committee meeting to testify, but ran out of time. She said her entire family needs PSE medicines because of allergies.

“All the children in our family and my grandson included suffer from allergies, Davis said. “Four of my six children got allergy shots for years. We’ve seen the same allergy immunologist for over 20 years. And we are Sudafed users. We’ve never abused it. We’ve never cooked anything with it. We take it cause our nose gets stuffy.”

A recent poll shows a majority of Kentuckians don’t approve of the prescription-only approach. But advocates of that approach say ad campaigns against the measure have skewed the numbers.

The committees plan to hold more meetings on the issue as bills with each approach are considered in the General Assembly

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Frankfort Local News

House and Senate Committees Will Discuss Pseudoephedrine Control

In a rare joint meeting, the judiciary committees of both Kentucky General Assembly chambers will hear testimony on pseudoephedrine.

Pseudoephedrine (PSE) is the key ingredient in many over-the-counter cold medicines and is essential to meth production. Tomorrow, the House and Senate Judiciary committees will hear testimony on how to control PSE.

Oklahoma does not require a prescription for PSE unless the buyer has been convicted of a meth-related crime. That’s the approach the health care industry supports. Mississippi requires anyone buying PSE to have a prescription. That’s an approach the Kentucky State Police and Senate leadership prefer.

Officials from both Oklahom and Mississippi will testify tomorrow.

“I wanted to say I’m probably not going to ask for a vote tomorrow on the legislation,” says Senator Tom Jensen. “We’re gonna hear testimony and we may even have to extend it to another meeting with so many people that want to speak. But I think it will be very informative for those who really want to get knowledgeable about this issue.”

Both approaches, prescription and conviction, have been proposed this session.